Saturday, December 3, 2011
This is my first time watching Red Garden.
So far, it's a fun mix of supernatural horror and mystery, with a little yuri thrown in.
It takes place in New York City, where the corpse of a girl named Lise is found one morning in a park. Was it a suicide? A murder? The police aren't sure.
Four girls who were friends with Lise- but not with each other, by virtue of being in different cliques- wake up not remembering what happened the night before. You have: Rose, the timid one who looks after her two younger siblings since her mom is in the hospital and her dad left them; Rachel, the party girl; Claire, the tomboyish one from a hardscrabble background who lives by herself; and soft-spoken Kate, the honor student who's on the All-Powerful Student Council called Grace and, by virtue of being the closest to Lise, is the closest thing to a main character that this story has. They sound like complete stereotypes, but this series does a very good job of humanizing them beyond that- largely through their reactions to Lise's death and what happens next.
That night, they each follow butterflies that only they can see to a place where two people in black suits, a woman named Lula and a man named JC, are waiting for them. Lula tells the girls that they died last night, like Lise, but they have new bodies. (Their original bodies are being stored elsewhere.) And that man with the blank eyes and fangs who's hurtling toward them on all fours? He needs to die if they want to live. Every night, they have to wait for Lula to call them if she needs them to kill more beast men.
Of course, Claire eventually has a crisis of conscience when one of their targets is someone she saw when he was normal. Kate's older sister's fiancee Emilio has a crisis of conscience because he's part of the family that caused the girls' deaths (as well as those of numerous other girls), and wants their new bodies as a...sort of solution to whatever causes members of his family to become insane and beast-like. But Kate, Claire, Rachel, and Rose don't know most of that yet. They spend most of this stretch of episodes adjusting to everything that changed after they died. Even with its Gantz-like premise and abundance of bad science, this series is grounded by its protagonists, who gel together surprisingly well as a group. And refreshingly, there's zero fan service.
Yuri? The Student Council President Paula is quietly but obviously in love with Kate. She repeatedly goes out of her way to keep Kate from being stripped of her student council position (and its incredible perks) when Kate starts slipping in her duties because of... you know, finding out she's dead and having to kill beast men at night. I'm looking forward to seeing Paula's confession to Kate later, which sounds like it's handled really well.
The first half of Red Garden is build-up, but it's entertaining so far. There are a lot of unanswered questions, but this series seems intelligent enough to resolve them well in the next half.
No ratings until my final review.